Which tractor will serve you best?
Contrary to popular belief, tractors are used in much more than agricultural work. Tractors are used in mowing, land-clearing, landscaping, construction, excavation, and livestock and industrial applications.
Tractors come in 2-wheel drives, equal and unequal 4-wheel drives; with different types of tires and horsepower; and multifunctional attachments. These factors influence the tractor’s capabilities and price.
Classifications of tractors
Tractors are classified on the basis of engine power and drive:
- 2-wheel drive tractors: are best for mowing level fields and traversing long distances.
- 4-wheel drive tractors: are suitable for attaching loaders, and have the traction to work well on unleveled surfaces. They have a large share in the small and medium-sized tractor market and better resale value.
- Small range tractors: have an engine of less than 25 hp (horsepower). They work best on lawns.
- Middle range tractors: have engines of 25-60 hp and perform well in commercial applications, nurseries, and farms.
- Heavy range tractors: have engines of 65 hp and higher. They are suitable for heavy work such as tilling and baling. Tractors of 200 hp are usually seen in large commercial farms.
Important characteristics of tractors
The cost and applicability of tractors depends on these characteristics:
- Tires: Tractors have pneumatic tires (for traction in loose muddy fields), industrial tires (for heavy loading and mowing), and turf tires (for minimizing surface damage).
- Cabs: Though costly, enclosed cabs protect operators from extreme climates. Air conditioned cabs consume 3-4 hp and are suitable for middle and heavy range tractors only.
- Transmissions: Tractors can have manual transmission or the more expensive clutch-free hydraulic transmission that uses up some horsepower.
- Attachments: Tractors can have attachments attached to the back and front such as rakes, spreaders, grapples and harrows. The number and type of attachments is directly proportional to the tractor’s cost and horsepower.
- Fuel: Tractors run on unleaded or diesel fuel, or grain.
- Safety features: Tractors are bulky machines. Lights and flashers provide safety on road. Latest models are equipped with an operator presence switch that turns off the engine in the operator’s absence. Rollover protection structures (ROP) protect the operator from getting crushed in a rollover accident.
Types of tractor attachments
Attachments lend greater functionality to tractors. Most attachments use the power of the tractor’s engine to work through a power take-off (PTO) drive shaft. Common attachments include:
- Backhoe: for digging precise holes.
- Mowers: come in various types:
- rough cut and brush mowers for heavy work
- finish mowers for detailed work
- bush mowers to mow acreage
- side mowers to mow side ditches on roads
- Box blades: for scraping, leveling or grading soil.
- Buckets: for moving piles of rocks and soil.
- Plows and blowers: to move snow.
- Front-end loader: for leveling, carrying and loading.
Services offered by tractor dealers
Tractors are expensive and hardy machines that need constant maintenance. While many owners perform routine tasks such as replacing filters, changing oil, and greasing joints, dealers can also offer maintenance contracts for a small fee. In any case, dealers should provide a maintenance manual for the tractor and a basic demo of its functions.
Dealers can offer financing options for purchasing tractors as they cost anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000. Attachments also cost a few thousands. A second hand tractor can be purchased at lower cost, but you should ensure it is in working order and comes with at least 1-2 months warranty. Some dealers may also have imported tractors that are sold semi-legally at cheap prices. However, spare parts are a major problem with these tractors and safety features may not meet standards.
The dealer should have sufficient workforce to pick and repair your tractor in case of a fault or breakdown. They should have the necessary parts and attachments as and when required. You should compare quotes from multiple vendors before making your choice. Price and after-sale services are equally important.
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